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Full text of "My Country And My People"

44      MY COUNTRY AND MY PEOPLE

mental make-up. They are here to-day because for thousands
of years we have been living under certain cultural and social
influences. The natural inference is that when these influences
are removed, the qualities will also correspondingly diminish
or disappear. The quality of patience is the result of racial
adjustment to a condition where over-population and economic
pressure leave very little elbow-room for people to move about,
and is, in particular, a result of the family system, which
is a miniature of Chinese society. Indifference is largely due
to the lack of legal protection and constitutional guarantee for
personal liberty. Old roguery is due, for lack of a better word,
to the Taoistic view of life. Of course, all these qualities are
products of the same environment, and it is only for the sake
of clearness that one assigns any single cause for any resulting
quality.

That patience is a noble virtue of the Chinese people no one
who knows them will gainsay. There is so much of this virtue
that it has almost become a vice with them. The Chinese
people have put up with more tyranny, anarchy and misrule
than any Western people will ever put up with, and seem to
have regarded them as part of the laws of nature. In certain
parts of Szechuen, the people have been taxed thirty years in
advance without showing more energetic protest than a half-
audible curse in the privacy of the household. Christian
patience would seem like petulance compared with Chinese
patience, which is as unique as Chinese blue porcelain is
unique. The world tourists would do well to bring home with
them some of this Chinese patience along with Chinese blue
porcelain, for true individuality cannot be copied. We submit
to tyranny and extortion as small fish swim into the mouth
of a big fish. Perhaps had our capacity for sufferance been
smaller, our sufferings would also be less. As it is, this capacity
for putting up with insults has been ennobled by the name of
patience, and deliberately inculcated as a cardinal virtue by
Confucian ethics. I am not saying that this patience is not
a great quality of the Chinese people. Jesus said, "Blessed are
the meek, for they shall inherit the earth/' and I am not sure
but that Chinese patience has enabled us to inherit half a
continent and keep it. The Chinese also inculcate it consciouslv